Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Translation and Ideology

Reconstructing psychoanlytical Freudian vocabulary into Hebrew via translation of the French Vocabulaire de la Psychanalyse

Noam Baruch (Tel Aviv University)



In the last ten years, psychoanalysis has reached a more or less mainstream position in the Israeli cultural-academic discourse. An eminent manifestation of this cultural tendency is the astounding flowering of Hebrew translations of major psychoanalytical writings, alongside, though on a much lower scale, contributions to the field of psychoanalysis in the original Hebrew.

In light of the above, a Hebrew translation of the Vocabulaire de la psychanalyse by J. Laplanche & J. B. Pontalis, which is now under way, is of great significance. Published in 1967, this monumental project, completed during almost a decade of rigorous reasearch on the Freudian conceptual system, was translated into many languages, thus becoming an indispensable reference to authors and a basic textbook for students and researchers alike.

Considering the fact that psychoanalytical terminology in Hebrew is not yet sufficiently established, a translation of the Vocabulaire also entails a terminographical undertaking aiming at offering a well thought out psychoanalytical vocabulary in Hebrew, which would eventually become a basis, and perhaps serve as impetus, for a Hebrew Standard Edition.

In most cases, reconstructing psychoanalytical Freudian vocabulary into Hebrew does not mean a Hebrew equivalent is invented to render a given Freudian term, originally coined in German. More oftenly it involves a selection among already existing options, which sometimes leads to a theoretical and even ideological far-reaching implications.

The Freudian Wunsch may serve to illustrate this point. This concept, traditionally rendered into Hebrew as mish'ala, has recently been challenged by the word ivuii, introduced into the psychoanalytical discourse in Hebrew as the equivalent of Jacques Lacan's désir. The latter is the traditional (but erroneous) French rendering of the Freudian Wunsch. Based on Lacan's own words, it will be argued that by substituting mish'ala for ivuii in translating Freud's Wunsch, one is willing to dress the Freudian text with Lacanian signifiers, thereby to create an anachronistic identification between Freudian writing and Lacanian discourse, in order to promote the status of the latter in the cultural-academic agenda.

Therefore, the choice to stick to the traditional mish'ala, in translating the Vocabulaire de la Psychanalyse , while by-passing the problems posed by the mediation of French désir, expresses an attempt to purify, thus deideologize, Freudian thought from its ulterior interpretative tendencies.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-15